Revisiting the Mississippi Interracial Marriage Poll

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar rj
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    says:

    Good for you for not digging your heels in and asking around for more info.Report

  2. Avatar Dennis Sanders
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    says:

    Mark,

    I guess I should have said this earlier, but I was more than okay with your blog post on the PPP poll. Speaking as an African American who still is at least nominally a Republican, I tend to roll my eyes at these kind of survey because they tend to support the fears and impressions that people have of Republicans in general. A fair number of my liberal friends tend to think all Republicans are racist, homophobic bigots even though they haven’t met many Republicans at least in their recent history. Polls like this one tend basically make them feel their beliefs correct.

    I don’t want to discredit the poll- I’ve been around long enough to know that racism is a problem in the GOP. The problem is that it tends to assume that everyone that has a R behind their name just has to be a bigot.

    The reality is, Republicans are just like the rest of humanity, complex. Yes, there are bigots in the GOP and they have to be dealt with, but that is not the totality of the party. I’ve met enough Republicans to know that they are more than the cartoonish descriptions sometimes given by those on the Left. (Republicans also have their cartoonish pictures of Democrats as well).Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Dennis Sanders
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      says:

      Dennis:

      Thanks for the comment. I think this is the perspective I probably should have shot for instead in the original post. Regardless of the poll’s validity, it’s a poll that is clearly geared towards scoring political points against Republicans and reinforcing the cartoonish caricature rather than attaining any deeper understanding of who Republicans are or attempting to discern the roots of the GOP’s race problems.

      A properly and well-done poll could have formed the basis for making some Republicans take a look at themselves and try to make some reforms in terms of how they speak about racial politics. But done in this way, the poll really just serves as red meat for Dems.

      It takes a serious problem (which is to no one’s benefit) that needs to be confronted and instead uses it for political capital rather than providing any information that may help the GOP confront the problem.Report

      • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        Dennis and Mark,

        Its not that the majority of Americans thinks all Republicans are homophobic racists, its that we believe your party has embraced the homophobes and racists in your all consuming quest for power (southern strategy, etc.).

        There is a simple action you can do to change Americans perception of your party; every time one of those idiots within your party opens their mouth to propose a policy that is homophobic or racists you need to shout them down (Alan Simpson).

        Simple isn’t it.

        Do this every time and believe me Americans views of your party will change, however continue to allow your leaders and their mouthpieces within the media to play the wink and nod game and you’ll be known as the homophobic racists party. You have to do it, self-described Republicans, no one else can.

        Until you denounce them, you’ll be defined by them.Report

        • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar
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          says:

          What’s funny here is that you think I’m a Republican.Report

          • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Mark Thompson
            Ignored
            says:

            I’m sorry, you write a post explaining away republican prejudice and when I check your archives it seems to be a pretty regular occurrence, so naturally I made the assumption that you were a republican.

            Reading back through both comments I now see that only David is a self-described Republican, you’re the type that just happens to support and vote republican.

            How could I have made that mistake?Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Loviatar
              Ignored
              says:

              What’s funny here is that you think I support and vote Republican. What’s funnier still is that your look into my archives apparently missed my previous three substantive posts, in which I: (1) Slammed Paul Ryan’s budget proposal as being anything but “serious”; (2) Argued forcefully against restrictions and conditions on beneficiaries of the social safety net; and (3) Argued forcefully for strengthening unions via repeal of anti-labor legislation.

              I suppose you’re referring to the post in which I argued that legislation in South Dakota would not have legalized the murder of abortion providers. And you know what? It wouldn’t have, and I never came across any analysis that even attempted to dispute my arguments for why it wouldn’t have. There was certainly plenty of dispute as to whether the drafter intended to do that, but I was far more interested in discerning whether it actually would have achieved that result. This required actual research of actual case law and related statutes; in other words, a look at actual facts.

              But let us continue down the walk through my archives, shall we?

              The post before that was based on the premise that Shirley Sherrod has a strong case for defamation against Breitbart. And the post before that was my widely-linked post blowing the Right’s conspiracy theory about the Pigford settlement out of the water.

              Oh, and FYI: I have voted in a general election for exactly 2 Republicans for federal office in my life. Neither was for President. I’ve voted both for more Dems and more third-party types for federal office. I’ve also never voted for a Republican for governor. I’ve even voted for more Dem governors than independents.

              But hey, you know best. So I guess I was just imagining all those things.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Loviatar
          Ignored
          says:

          The Great Race-Baiting Debate of 2008, the Obamans vs. the Clintons. How soon they forget. Per Sean Wilentz, accredited historian and unaccredited lefty bigmouth:

          http://riverdaughter.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/wilentz-blows-lid-off-obama-race-baiting-campaign/

          No amount of racial tap-dancing will ever satisfy the Loviatars of the world. Even the First Black President was a racist. The Repubs have no chance.Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to tom van dyke
            Ignored
            says:

            Let’s see, it seems Tom has now covered all the bases:

            -Bias! Bias!
            -Yeah, but black people believe some crazy shit too!
            -Liberals are the real racists!

            Yet, he hasn’t actually addressed the poll itself or even the issue the question addresses.Report

            • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Chris
              Ignored
              says:

              Chris,

              You lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas.

              Mark and Dennis have decided to lie down with the Toms of the world and they’ll wake up being called racists.

              Just another way of saying you’re known by the company you keep.Report

              • Avatar rj in reply to Loviatar
                Ignored
                says:

                That was way out of line. I disagree with Mark on the issue of this one poll, but I don’t think the fact that a few crank commenters come here discredits him as a writer.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Loviatar
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree with RJ. I don’t know Dennis, but see no reason to think he’s a bad person simply because he’s a conservative, and Mark seems to be genuinely trying to engage the issue and the poll itself. You’re showing your own prejudices more than anything, here.Report

              • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                rj and Chris,

                You are correct, it is not fair what I wrote.

                E.D. Kain said it better in his post on Muslims;

                I don’t doubt that Tim Mark, means well, but I’m afraid that all he’s doing is providing cover for those who don’t. I could say it’s time for moderate conservatives like Tim Mark to denounce radicals in his tribe, but I don’t think that’s necessary. We own our own words, our own actions. We speak for ourselves.

                My only quibble is that while we own our own words and actions, we don’t always speak for ourselves.Report

  3. Avatar Zach
    Ignored
    says:

    The cross tabs by ideology seemed really weird till you see that there’s a 4/4/17/36/40 split (going from Very Liberal to Very Conservative). Apparently, the 32 liberal or very liberal Republicans that PPP found are way racist, with 71% and 55% of them wanting to bring back anti-miscegenation laws.

    There are large enough samples to discern a correlation between being elderly and wanting to ban interracial marriage, though, which falls in line with the sort of logic you describe and suggests there’s probably some validity to the poll.Report

  4. Avatar North
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    says:

    That seems fair to me. Good on you Mark.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    Regarding the skewed old demographics of the poll, the one interesting (to put it neutrally) thing on the cross tabs is that the yutes (18-29) were the second highest demo for wanting mixed race mariage illegal at 54% (geezers were at 56%, every one else was 38-39%)

    My ex-rectum hypothesis is that if you’re that age and (still) living in Mississippi, and you self-identify as a Republican you’re going to tend to be of a certain type.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Kolohe
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      says:

      I’ve been in and out for the last few days and haven’t followed this. Have we any idea what the opinions are of people who are: 1. old farts, 2. from Mississippi, but 3. Democrats?Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        I’m guessing that exit polls from the 2000 referendum in Alabama would give a pretty good idea, but I can’t find the relevant exit polls online.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        According to these numbers, 29% of the voters in the 2008 Democratic primary in Mississippi were over 60. Those numbers are likely to be off a little, because 13% of the voters in that primary were self-identified Republicans. By comparison, 44% of the voters in the 2008 Republican primary in Missisippi were over 60 (and as futher contrast, only 3% of Republican primary voters self-identified as Democrats).Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Chris
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          says:

          So, if we assume that party affiliation is about the same (a big if I realize) we can say that the Republicans skew older. But are old people just more likely to have unreconstructed views, no matter what their party affiliation? Is that the issue? And since none of the parties is trying very hard to do away with interracial marriage, how important is it that old people tend to have old views?Report

  6. Avatar reflectionephemeral
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    says:

    Best of the web. Seriously– throwing something out there, tangling with occasionally uncivil comments, and changing your mind (or at least tone) on a matter is what we should all should be striving for, and almost always strive against. Thanks for the post.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    As a general matter you tended toward skepticism for the idea that we get accurate reflections of public opinion through public opinion surveying. That means you erred at most in degree and particulars, not in the general direction of your impulse — nothing to cry in one’s soup over. But kudos for keeping a tight standard of personal blog-countability nevertheless.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      +1, Mr. Drew. In his praise for the post, and in that these contentious polls are of questionable validity or value.

      Extrapolating from other polls I’ve seen, I think you’d have a sizable chunk of Obama voters agreeing that AIDS was developed by the CIA to kill the black man.

      Would they really believe that? Who knows? Some would be sincere, but it’s also a way to tell a pollster to go fish himself for insulting your intelligence.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to tom van dyke
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        says:

        That a substantial percentage of African Americans believe that the U.S. government plays some role in the AIDS epidemic — whether it created the disease, is withholding a cure, is using the disease against black people specifically, or a handful of other conspiracy theories — is pretty well known, and completely irrelevant. But way to go with the, “I know you are but what am I” response.Report

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      Note that because of laws they can only call land lines, which does tend to select against younger people in general. This is of course true of any telephone based poll. With the continual decrease in the number of land lines the validity of public opinion surveys becomes more and more suspect over time. I know when I get such a call I just hang up. I wish the do not call list included the survey types. Others probably use caller ID to screen these calls away.Report

  8. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    Mark,

    After reviewing the poll, I support your original post. It doesn’t really pass the smell test. Keeping in mind that science is not about single studies but about replication, I wouldn’t trust this finding unless I saw it replicated.

    I agree with your criticisms of the question and its placement. It comes as the solitary question about policy after a long and fairly numbing sequence of questions about favorability ratings and “who would you vote for” lists.

    And the weirdness of the youngest respondents being statistically identical to the oldest respondents in their opposition to legal interracial marriage is bizarre enough to demand further investigation rather than being taken at face value.

    And I should point out that I read your post before looking at the survey and was skeptical of your claims, but looking at the survey persuaded me you were right. I’ve been working with students for the past couple of weeks on developing surveys for their research projects, and I would definitely balk at letting them throw that question in the survey at that point. Whether PPP was trying to make southern Republicans look bad I can’t say,* so I wouldn’t want to make that assumption. But at the least they’re guilty of sloppy methodology.

    _______________
    *Of course that’s no challenge, eh?Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      And James Hanley and I agree for the second time this week! There is hope for us all. [Well-spotted on the age thing.]Report

      • Avatar Heidegger in reply to tom van dyke
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        says:

        Oh no–I think I’m going to be sick! Prof. Hanley and Tom Van Dyke agree with one another? You two characters must always remain antagonists. It’s simply just more fun. Okay, admittedly, I really get a kick out of Prof. Hanley when he goes completely bonkers–like completely nuts! Too be honest, I really do miss the guy. He would be much more interesting and appreciated on this site, so Dr. Hanley, you have hereby been ordered to resign your position at ????? set up quarters at the League, and let er rip! I earlier wrote that we might need to change the name of this joint to, “Dullards Are Us”. It’s gotten so bland and way to politically correct. With you roaming around the joint, it guarantees it would be much, much, more fun. Please think it over. I have a check with six numbers on it should you reconsider. Hope all is well—you are missed.

        Tom is starting to seriously worry me. Tom, please, whatever you do, don’t be a welcome mat, a cipher, a tail wagging sycophant. It doesn’t become you. And there are enough of them, anyway.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Heidegger
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          says:

          Mr. H—As ill-used by the attendant mob as I am, James Hanley was treated even worse, as he took to the mainpage.

          I believe I’m on record with my objection, and iirc, I didn’t even dip my toe into the water of the substance of his post.

          Clarity is more important than agreement, is the mantra of a fellow I admire greatly. Hanley was not engaged or counterargued, he was shouted down. And that’s why he left. It just wasn’t worth it to lie awake at night, wondering how to deal with the scurrilous attacks on his reputation and integrity, just to post the unnecessary for the ungrateful.

          James Hanley, PhD is a real person who has something to say and something to lose, not a mere internet figment. Thus, I respect your own decision to hide behind a pseudonym and play the jester. You’re probably the only one here who will get out alive. The reputations of the rest—and I think management is beginning to suspect this—cannot be enhanced by this mess, only sullied.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to tom van dyke
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            says:

            Hanley was not engaged or counterargued, he was shouted down. And that’s why he left.

            I wouldn’t agree with it. I left for reasons of general ill-fit, not because I was shouted down rather than argued with. I had to deal with too many arguments I saw as irrelevant and not informative, but they weren’t except in rare cases just shouting. I wouldn’t want the commenters here to think that mere shouting is how I saw it.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      As Mark mentions in this post, there’s independent evidence that suggests the poll isn’t inaccurate.

      By the way, if you look at political surveys over the phone, you’ll often find policy questions thrown in like that. In general, the pollsters (and the people who hired them) want a quick look at an issue or two, and a bunch of information about potential voting patterns. In short polls like that (and it is short, even if it reads long — probably took fewer than 5 minutes to complete), they usually put them near the end before the demographic stuff. It may lead to inaccuracies, but there’s no inherent reason to think it does. As someone who, many years ago, used to do political surveys over the phone (I was in college and needed a job that would let me work nights, sue me), I can honestly say nothing about that survey structure looks odd.

      This question was a bit odd in that, as Mark’s original post (quoting the other blog post, maybe?) mentioned, interracial marriage isn’t an election issue in Mississippi right now. However, I don’t think that renders the results suspect. If anything, the unexpectedness would likely make people more honest, as they don’t have the opportunity to think about what they should answer, instead of answering with what they really think. That’s a common tactic in social psychology research, in fact. As long as the question was asked clearly, there’s no reason to suspect the results are skewed because of some surprise factor (which I’ve never heard used as an argument against a political survey).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Chris,

        Two points of disagreement. First, Mark was correct in his original post that such a sudden change of course usually includes a lead in (“Now I’d like to ask you some questions about…). Now if the poll is jumping all over the place from the beginning, to ensure no response set is inadvertently created and try to keep the respondent listening closely, that might not be necessary. But 13 straight questions of one type followed without lead-in by a single question of another type? That’s not best practices.

        As to the independent evidence of Alabama’s constitutional vote, I don’t really buy it. First, in any referendum a sizable proportion of people will just automatically vote no. When I lived in Oregon we had a referendum question on low interest home loans for veterans widows, and something like 25% voted no on that. Second, most people probably knew it was unenforceable anyway and so thought there was no real purpose to eliminating it from the Constitution–southerners tend to be traditionalists, and a good number could have voted for it just for that purpose. So 40% of Alabama voters voting against removing an unenforceable interracial marriage ban from the state constitution does not provide compelling evidence that anywhere near that number of people really want it to be illegal. It’s suggestive, to be sure, but given what we know of a) referendum voting, and b) southern traditionalism, I just don’t find it persuasive.

        I’d be much more impressed by a) a follow-up survey with a better design that asked the same question, or b) an identically designed survey delivered in a non-southern state (allowing us to compare the differential responses to that question).

        I’ll stand by the argument that extraordinary findings require extraordinary evidence.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          James, ask, and ye shall receive:

          http://www.gallup.com/poll/28417/most-americans-approve-interracial-marriages.aspx

          It’s not about a law, but it is about interracial marriage. And it’s a few years old, but not old enough to not be relevant. Notice that nationwide, support for interracial marriage among whites over 50 is around 64%, suggesting that 36% either disapprove, don’t know, or don’t have an opinion. It’s not unreasonable to expect that number to be higher in Mississippi or any of the former confederate states, and to be even higher among conservatives in that age group.

          That poll doesn’t help to explain, and perhaps even casts doubt on the youth results from the Mississippi poll, but since it’s a southern state exclusively, and only polls conservatives, I don’t think those results are outrageous.

          Let me just add, before Heidegger writes 1200 words about how I must be a commie radical who’s bombed some government office in the 60s because I think all conservatives are racist, that I don’t, in fact, think all conservatives are racists. Or at least, I don’t think all conservatives are any more racists than the average person (and I think to some degree everyone’s a racist, including myself; the attitudes are too deeply ingrained in our culture for us not to be). In fact, I don’t think most conservatives are any more racist than the average. But I do think you’re likely to find more racism among conservatives, and in particular more overt racism. And of course, there’s data to back me up on that.Report

          • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris
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            says:

            I would be a bit careful about applying that Gallup poll here. Especially in light of how the MS poll has been promoted, there is a big difference between disapproval for interracial marriages and a belief that they should be illegal.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Mark Thompson
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              says:

              Oh, I agree, but I don’t intend it as the sole data point. Instead, it’s another piece in a chain of evidence in a chain that supports the Mississippi poll, or at least suggests it’s not an anomaly.

              And let’s be honest, I doubt anyone from the south is all that surprised. I mean, I’ve been to Mississippi, and while I love the state (I really do, and not just because it gave us this), racism is much more on the surface there than it is in much of the country in 2011 (parts of South Carolina, Mobile, and parts of Louisiana are the only places I’ve seen it so readily displayed in the last 15 years). You don’t have to go looking for it, even among young people.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris
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                says:

                Chris,

                Eh, the poll doesn’t break anything down regionally. It’s a solid poll for what it says, as Gallup nearly always is, but I don’t think we can extrapolate much from it.

                Keep in mind I’m not saying no southerners would like interracial marriage to be outlawed, and I’m not even so sure about questioning the findings among old people. But I am very doubtful that the +-5% on that question as a whole is accurate.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      I will say that the age issue (which has been discussed here already; good eye, Tom) is somewhat puzzling, but as people in that age group do tend to vote Democrat, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to speculate that young Republicans tend to be more… let’s say, fervent.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Chris,

        Since younger Republicans are more likely than middle age and older Republicans to support same-sex marriage, I would be suspicious that they are less supportive of legal interracial marriage.

        It’s that number in the lower age group that I’m particularly stuck on. It’s just too much of an outlier, given my general knowledge of public opinion and American politics, to be taken at face value. Of course that’s the great thing about real research–our assumed knowledge could be wrong, and the data can show us that. But, again, data that far outside expectations require replication before we surrender our doubts about them.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          Eh, I’m not sure support for gay marriage and support for interracial marriage are the same thing. I also think it’s interesting that, though it’s within the margin of error, the highest % of respondents with favorable ratings of Palin was among the youngest age group, suggesting that they are in fact quite conservative.Report

    • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to James Hanley
      Ignored
      says:

      > I’ve been working with students for the past couple
      > of weeks on developing surveys for their research
      > projects, and I would definitely balk at letting them
      > throw that question in the survey at that point.

      Mebbe a guest post on accurate survey instrumentation building would be in order.Report

  9. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    By the way, since a consistent theme from some commenters has been that this was a hit job, I thought this comment from the PPP blog by one of the PPP employees might be of interest:

    BTW, we did ask this interracial marriage question of everyone, not just Republicans, but we’ll be releasing the full results on that at a later date.

    http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2799451770086337664&postID=8659061201993601699Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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      says:

      It might help to read the other comments by that same employee, Dustin Ingalls. Relevant to the discussion we’ve been having, he notes that they asked the interracial marriage question of everyone, and that the questions in the report were not the only questions asked. This is puzzling (why didn’t they include the other questions in this report? Are the results coming out in future reports?), and it may mean the survey was long, but it also answers one of the objections Mark and others have raised.

      On the age issue, he also gives info on the margin of error for the young age group. This doesn’t completely answer the concerns, but it helps a bit.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Chris
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        says:

        I don’t interpret his comment as saying that the questions in the report were not the only questions asked, but that the interracial marriage question was not the only question asked.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson
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          says:

          I agree with Mark here. It’s not clear that Ingalls is saying they asked other policy questions. And if PPP did ask other policy questions it would seem odd that they neither list them in the survey text they reported nor discuss any of them in the analysis.

          I would highlight that Ingalls notes that the margin of error in the 18-29 age group section of the interracial marriage poll is +-14 percentage points (he says 14%, but I assume he’s just speaking carelessly there–I do that, too, sometimes). And I’m not sure why you would even bother to report something with such a large margin of error.

          As to interracial marriage not being the same as same-sex marriage, I’m willing to wager actual money you’d find high correlation between positions on those two issues.Report

  10. Avatar rj
    Ignored
    says:

    Some research re: the 2000 Alabama interracial marriage referendum:

    http://maltman.hmdc.harvard.edu/papers/MeasuringRacialDiffs.pdf

    According to this article, no exit polls were taken to see the racial/age breakdown (p. 8). Later research from reconstructed data (p. 13) show 49% of whites and 8% of blacks voted to keep the law on the books. At least for whites, the number voting No was higher than polling would indicate. Predictably, whites in counties that trended older were more likely to vote No.

    Caveats: This referendum took place 11 years ago in a neighboring state and does not have a partisan breakdown. However, whites vote overwhelmingly GOP in national races and increasingly so in statewide races as well.

    What this research does show is that the survey results are not outlandish. If the main critique of the placement of the question within the survey is that it could cause confusion, there has been no evidence presented that any confusion would cause more false positives than false negatives.Report

  11. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    This is one of those things that confuses me to the point where I am willing to say that the folks who said “yes” *MUST* have been answering a different question than the one they thought they were asked.

    I mean, let’s unpack the question.

    Do you think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal?

    Does this mean that you think that judges ought to deny marriage licenses to interracial couples?

    Does this mean that you think that police ought to kick down the doors of people in an interracial marriage and make them move to one of those Northern states like Tennessee or North Carolina?

    Does this mean that you think that there should be people whose job it is to arrest people who are in an interracial marriage?

    Or does this mean that you merely disapprove of interracial marriage?

    I mean, I know that *I* have had conversations with people who have said such things as “such and such should be illegal” and, when questioned more closely, they say “well, I don’t mean arrestable! I just mean people shouldn’t do it!”

    You know. Like Happy Meals or something.

    So my reading of that question got a “surely they don’t mean *THAT*” from me as well.Report

    • Avatar rj in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      So tell me how any of those interpretations of the question are not reprehensible? And why would that lead people to answer “yes” if they meant “no”?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rj
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        says:

        If they just “disapprove” of interracial marriage and conflate that with “it should be illegal”, I’d put that in the “acceptably reprehensible” category.

        I’d find it more interesting, at that point, to explore the whole “I disapprove of X, therefore I can say that X should be illegal, even though I don’t think that cops should actually do anything about it” dynamic that exists out there (and it does exist out there).

        If it was the “we ought to have cops kicking down doors and shooting dogs in order to prevent interracial marriage” attitude, however, I would be confused to the extreme because that attitude is so foreign to me that I cannot understand it at all and my general response to it is “I hope that those people are old enough that they will be dead soon.”Report

        • Avatar rj in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          If they conflate “disapprove” with “should be illegal,” then we can’t ever have useful polling about criminal law. If I conducted a poll asking whether the Kardashians should be illegal, I’d expect that people wouldn’t confuse it with “disapprove” and run 99-1 against.

          I love to see another situation in which people can’t understand this difference. The best comparison we have is the 2000 Alabama ballot initiative, which is in line with the new Mississippi survey.

          People desperately want to believe that the results are somehow skewed. Honestly, I don’t want to believe it either – are these people really my countrymen? It’s shameful! But just because something is shameful doesn’t mean it’s not true.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rj
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            says:

            I love to see another situation in which people can’t understand this difference.

            Flag burning.
            Usage of the ‘N’ word in Huck Finn.
            Violent imagery in music.

            The “Free Speech” debate has quite a great many examples of “shouldn’t” with “otta be illegal”.Report

            • Avatar rj in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              Considering enduring support for things like the flag burning amendment, I wouldn’t discount it when people say something should be illegal.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rj
                Ignored
                says:

                Or, heck, amendments banning gay marriage to State Constitutions. (From what I understand, every time such as been put up to a popular vote, they’ve succeeded excepting once… and popular votes recognizing gay marriage have failed every time).

                Even so, it seems like a somewhat different dynamic given Lawrence v. Texas… though, yes, I have had the occasional argument with a conservative who has argued that Lawrence v. Texas was decided incorrectly but it’s *VERY* rare to meet one who says as much out loud (even on a webpage in an anonymous comment) and when you ask the question about cops kicking down doors and shooting dogs, they tend to hem and haw and explain that they disapprove and “it ought to be illegal” doesn’t mean they want the cops shooting people for resisting arrest for sharing a house.Report

              • Avatar rj in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Illegal is illegal. Just because people don’t want convenience store owners executed for selling cigarettes to a 12-year-old doesn’t mean they want it to be legal. I don’t know why arguing about the punishment has anything to do with the validity of the poll’s results.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to rj
                Ignored
                says:

                Because my personal speculation was that we were judging people for answering a particular question a particular way when they could very well have been answering a different particular question a different particular way… and I think I’ve given examples of such things happening before and such things being not particularly uncommon.

                If you feel that my speculation is off-base or the phenomenon I describe is uncommon, if not downright rare, that’s cool.

                I don’t know why arguing about the punishment has anything to do with the validity of the poll’s results.

                Because if we say “X ought to be illegal!” and the follow-up question of “do you think that the police should arrest or fine people for doing X?” comes “No, of course not!”, then they are saying something very different when they say “X ought to be illegal!” than when I say it… and what they mean is interesting enough to explore.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Recall Scalia’s rant:

                State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.

                Because I certainly want the cops breaking down doors and shooting dogs if they get a hot tip that a teenager’s in the bathroom with the swimsuit edition.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Here’s where it gets sticky:

                Should the government have the power to pass laws against those things?

                It seems to me that both Team Blue and Team Red’s answer is something to the effect of “yes, of course it should! It should just exercise enough judgment to not use its power to do boneheaded things like that. Additionally, the laws that I support are completely different.”Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                wow Jay..you care….you really careReport

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Not only that, Greg, I’m the only one who does.Report

              • Avatar rj in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                About what? Nitpicking a poll because it makes white southerners look bad?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I mean in general.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Most of the Supreme Court said “No, it doesn’t!”, including all of Team Blue. The dissenters were the reddest Team Red guys. [1] So the equivalence you’re trying for fails.

                1 Including the one who’s so Red that he’s black, who came up with the mesmerizing “I join your dissent even though I completely disagree with everything it says”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike, that’s not my reading of Lawrence v. Texas.

                My reading was “Texas should not pass these laws if they are going to be discriminatory in how they’re applied across the sexes.”

                That is, it’s legal for a man and a woman to make the beast with one back but it’s illegal for two men to do so.

                *THAT* is what was overturned… not the idea that the state ought not be so intrusive to the point where it also occupies a bedroom that holds two consenting adults.

                Goodness knows, I *WISH* they overturned it based on an idea that the state ought not have that much power… but they didn’t. They overturned it based on an idea that the state ought use that power more fairly.

                And that’s *COMPLETELY* different.Report

  12. Avatar Bob
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is another poll that has that 40% number when measuring southern attitudes. I’m surprised the number isn’t higher.

    “In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, roughly one in four Americans said they sympathize more with the Confederacy than the Union, a figure that rises to nearly *four in ten* among white Southerners.”

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_04/028913.phpReport

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